(Photo by Andrew Brosig)
Story by Kelly Augustine, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce board of directors announced Solid Foundation Association as the Non Profit of the Year. The born-in-Nacogdoches organization is recognized because of its impact on the lives of our community’s children and its mission to “disrupt the cycle of poverty through educational, spiritual and personal development.”
The association provides an after-school program and reaches children across Nacogdoches in neighborhoods that have high poverty income levels. Solid Foundation provides parents the ability to work knowing that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment. “We strive to transform potential welfare recipients into high school graduates and tax-paying citizens,” said Executive Director John Cannings.
Mr. Cannings' passion for guiding at-risk children to bright futures keeps him involved, going on now for 28 years, and his childhood experiences fuel his volunteer leadership and commitment to the program. “I am driven by my struggles as a playful, rambunctious child who lacked structure and the study habits to succeed in the classroom,” Mr. Cannings said. “My parents took decisive action and put me in an after-school program to harness my energy in a positive learning experience that catapulted me into the person I am today.”
Mr. Cannings was born in Guyana South America and was the fourth of eight children. His parents created a strong family bond that he continues to enjoy with his siblings. The family relocated to the USA in 1972 when Mr. Cannings was 19-years-old. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Agriculture, and he held a successful career as a medical technologist. Until his retirement in 2021, Mr. Cannings was working in the lab and devoting his time as the association’s director.
Mable Cannings, wife of Mr. Cannings, has played a significant role in the success of the organization, in strategic planning, promoting the mission, writing grants, organizing youth trips and fundraising events including the annual gala from its beginning. Contributions are made by dedicated board members such as G.W. Neal, Rev. Kevin Davis, Francis Spruiell, Greg Williams, Christine Crain, Dr. Sharon Ninness and trustees of the Bright Foundation. “Our mentors and tutors become cheerleaders for the children they serve,” Mr. Cannings said. “They broaden their view of the world and challenge them to reach their full potential.”
Solid Foundation became a United Way agency in 1998, and it is designated as a Neighborhood Community Center by Texas Council of Community Centers. The organization operates at 2220 E. Main St.
Planning the construction of a new facility for operations is part of the organization’s future vision, and Mr. Cannings would like to expand by offering weekend services.
Solid Foundation will be honored at the Nacogdoches County Chamber’s 101st Annual Meeting & Membership Banquet presented by The Fredonia Hotel and Convention Center on Sept. 26. Charles Pool Real Estate sponsors the Non Profit of the Year Award.